Fleetwood Town put in a superb performance on Boxing Day as they beat play-off chasing Doncaster Rovers 3-0 at Highbury.
Two goals from Paddy Madden and one from Ash Hunter sealed the points for the Cod Army as they made it seven games unbeaten in the league at home.
Madden scored a trademark glancing header at the near post after Nathan Sheron crossed the ball into the box. It was just the start they deserved. And despite constant attacks from Doncaster, Town doubled their lead thanks to the work from Ched Evans and Hunter, who pounced on a defensive mistake from Rovers.
And in stoppage time, Madden made it three from inside the box to seal the win to make it seven unbeaten at home in the league.
It was an even start to the match with both Fleetwood and Doncaster battling for the ball in the middle of the park. On two occasions, the ball fell for the away side and it was Herbie Kane who found space from distance, with both of his efforts not troubling Alex Cairns.
Town took the lead early in the match thanks to a glancing header from Madden. The Irishman anticipated the cross into the box by right back Sheron, and used the pace on the ball to guide it past Ian Lawlor in the opponents’ goal. Just the start the Cod Army wanted.
Sheron was later booked for a foul outside the area, with Ali Crawford trying his luck from 25 yards out, and he made Cairns scramble across his line to deny the midfielder.
It was Grant McCann’s team who thought they had levelled proceedings at Highbury Stadium. Danny Andrew whipped in a delicious ball into the penalty area from a wide angle and if it wasn’t for the linesman’s flag, it would have been honours even after thirty minutes. Andy Butler the man denied a goal.
Jason Holt – who was the engine for Fleetwood in the centre of the park – found himself in acres of space outside the box, and his shot was deflected narrowly wide of the goal. From the following corner, it was well worked and Ross Wallace was through on the tightest of angles, but again Lawlor was there to parry the shot away.
The teams came out for the second half, and it was Fleetwood who came out of the traps flying and after a mix up in the Doncaster back line, Evans found himself one on one with the keeper, and very unselfishly, Evans squared the ball to Hunter, who calmly passed the ball into the open net. One than Rovers defender Tom Anderson won’t want to see again.
Hunter nearly made it three for Fleetwood and two for himself on Boxing Day after beating the keeper to the ball, going around Lawlor. With the goal at his mercy, though on a narrow angle, the 24-year-old didn’t take his opportunity when it arose.
As the mist came in from the Irish Sea, it was Doncaster who had three really good shots at goal blocked by the Fleetwood Town centre halves, and with those three chances going missing, it looked like it wasn’t going to be their day on the Fylde Coast.
Town looked solid as a defensive unit, but had the strength and speed up front to cause the Yorkshire side problems if they threw more bodies up the pitch to get themselves back into the game.
Seven games unbeaten at home was confirmed when Madden made it 3-0 in front of the home fans. Sub Harrison Biggins played through the forward and just like Madden does best, he buried his chance to seal the win!
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Holt (J. Wallace 64’), Eastham, Evans, Madden, Morgan ©, Hunter (Burns 80’), R. Wallace, Marney, Sheron (Biggins 46’).
Subs not used: Jones (GK), McAleny, Bolger, Taylor.
Doncaster XI: Lawlor (GK), Andrew, Butler ©, Wilks, Whiteman, Marquis, Crawford (May 58’), Anderson, Kane, Coppinger, Cummings (Rowe 46’).
Subs not used: Morosi (GK), Taylor, Amos, Blaney, Prior.